Jeff, our lead pastor, delivered a powerful sermon to conclude our “Grasping the Gospel” series. One of the arguably most powerful moments of the sermon was when Jeff reminded us that God doesn’t accept our moral self-improvement as an adequate offering to make ourselves right with Him. Jesus has already done all your work for you. The beauty and simplicity of the Gospel is that we give God our faith, and He gives us His righteousness. Understanding that truth is tremendous and something many of us have to consistently work to grasp in all of its beauty. This truth was also the perfect way to frame the sermon, as it reminded us of the incredible news we are called to share.
The focal scripture for today’s sermon is found in Matthew 9 & 10. In particular we spent a lot of time on Matthew 9:35-38. Two of the powerful truths taught to us in these passages are that we must intentionally pray before we share the Gospel and that we must also boldly proclaim the Gospel.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
When Jesus prepared to share the Gospel, He saw people in need and felt compassion for them. He identified their greatest need. We must follow His example and avoid the trap of becoming cause-oriented Christians and focus our hearts and minds on being Christ-oriented Christians. We find an observation and a command in Matthew 9:35-38: the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.
When was the last time you looked at someone and your heart broke because they don’t know Jesus? Does it break your heart to know the one thing they were created for is the one thing they don’t have?
When was the last time you regularly and fervently engaged in prayer for a family member or friend that you know is lost and does not have a love relationship with Jesus?
As believers that have been given the commission of sharing the Gospel it can feel intimidating. Matthew 10 provides great encouragement and instruction for us as we obey God’s command to share the Gospel. In this chapter we are given authority to share (Matthew 10:1) and also the encouragement to share in a focused and bold manner (Matthew 10:13-23). We are also reminded that we are not responsible for the other person’s response if you’re faithful to the message. We are also encouraged not to fear antagonistic responses—even extreme ones (Matthew 10:16-23)
What would it look like if we saw the fields and had compassion?
A Team Effort
We are a body of believers all working together with an important role (Colossians 1:24). This is also true for when we share the Gospel. You may start a conversation with a lost friend about Jesus and years later, someone else actually leads them in the final stages of accepting Christ. Your foundational role was huge and also a beautiful demonstration of how God uses each of us as part of the process.
Prayer Before Share—Be Ready!
There is maintenance prayer and front line prayer. Maintenance prayer is reactive in nature, prayers for sickness that comes up, flat tires that happen, or circumstances that suddenly go wrong. Front line prayer is where the battle takes place. This type of prayer is proactive and is reminiscent of the sports motto, “the best offense is a strong defense.” We need to consistently offer up front line prayers for our friends and family that are lost, by name.
A Yearning to Know God
If we truly saw the abundance of the harvest and felt true compassion it would bring about a yearning within our hearts and souls to know God, see His face, and to glimpse his Glory. It would also bring about a desire for his grace and would cause us to confess our sins and humble ourselves before Him.
The Father is ultimately in control of the harvest and invites us to be part of His work. He has ordained that we have a role in the harvest of souls for eternity and therefore we must obey and work
What happens when we do the work of the Gospel?
- God saves many within the church.
- The newly revitalized church becomes contagious with the good news of the gospel. “Christians become radiant and attractive witnesses.” (Keller)
- God saves many outside the church
- Worship becomes vibrant
- There is a recommitment to biblical theology and its application
- Deepening of community
- A spread of humility and service
Ultimately, the work of the Gospel is all for God’s glory. It’s not about us and it is all about Him. It is about the salvation of the lost and the blessings that come from joining God in His harvest.
When struggling with hard times and tough circumstances remember to preach the gospel to yourself. In fact, make it a habit to preach the Gospel to yourself daily. This means to consistently remind yourself of what you know to be foundationally true about God and His love for you and to align your reality with His reality. Remember the essence of the Gospel is that God’s love for you is extravagant. “Truth it through” the times that feel confusing and particularly tough.
One of the best ways to stay aligned with truth is to invest in authentic relationships with other believers. Our small groups start this coming week. This is an excellent way to grow in your walk with Christ. It is also a place for you to discover what it means to be a Christ follower, if you have yet to accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
We encourage you to listen to this sermon in its entirety on the podcast. We also hope you will join us next week for Vision Sunday as we prepare to launch our next series entitled, “Immeasurably More” as well as our building campaign.